Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.
President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct. Read The Full Story
One of the nation's best-known charities is paying disabled workers as little as 22 cents an hour, thanks to a 75-year-old legal loophole that critics say needs to be closed.
Goodwill Industries, a multibillion-dollar company whose executives make six-figure salaries, is among the nonprofit groups permitted to pay thousands of disabled workers far less than minimum wage because of a federal law known as Section 14 (c). Labor Department records show that some Goodwill workers in Pennsylvania earned wages as low as 22, 38 and 41 cents per hour in 2011. Read The Full Story
A House vote on a bill that would allow states to force online retailers to collect sales tax is a couple of months away, but the Republicans in the Tennessee delegation are being lobbied heavily. The state’s two Democrats, Congressman Steve Cohen and Congressman Jim Cooper, support the bill, which as already passed the U.S. Senate.
But conservative critics have Tennessee’s Republican House members jittery. Even though the bill is supported by the state’s two Republican senators and Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, and House Speaker Beth Harwell (all Republicans), activists are calling support for the bill support for a tax increase. Large businesses in the state and chambers of commerce are also calling the congressmen to explain how the present system is hurting retailers’ bottom line by giving their out-of-state competitors an advantage and urging a vote for the bill. Read The Full Story
The Obama administration will start formal peace talks with the Taliban on Thursday in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, the first direct political contact between them since early last year and the initial step in what the administration hopes will lead to a negotiated end to the protracted war in Afghanistan. Read The Full Story